Category Archives: Geospatial Analysis

GeoHealth Innovations’ GIS Application Wins US Obesity Challenge Award

US Obesity  Data Challenge

At GeoHealth Innovations, we strive to be on the forefront of broadening the understanding of the relationship between community, health, and place.  We’re creating flexible and dynamic tools, such as Health Demographic Analysis, to deliver quality health and health care analysis.  Health Demographic Analysis is a tool inside the Virginia Atlas of Community Health that enables you to discover areas of potential population risk within a community or region at local level.


Source: Improving Population Health, University of Wisconsin,

Earlier this year, we recognized that Health Demographic Analysis would be a perfect fit for the US Obesity Data Challenge.  The US Obesity Data Challenge was announced during the 2015 Health Datapalooza, a national conference focusing on innovative health data usage and dissemination, by the de Beaumont Foundation, in collaboration with the Health Data Consortium (HDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

This competition looked to find innovative solutions that enable health care professionals and local health officials to help patients and families address the obesity epidemic at both a personal and community level.  We developed an obesity-focused version of Health Demographic Analysis and were awarded third place in this national competition.

Health Demographic Analysis Control Panel

Health Demographic Analysis Control Panel

Participants were required to use at least one open data set from a U.S. government resource in their solution.  This version of Health Demographic Analysis utilized data from the Virginia Atlas of Community Health along with data sets from the USDA Food Access Research Atlas (food deserts), the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (park locations and bike trails), and the USDA National Farmers Market Directory (Virginia farmer’s market locations).

Health Demographic Analysis is very helpful in that you get to define thresholds for at-risk populations.  The analysis allows you to mix and match different social determinants of health – income, education, HPSA designations, and many more – to arrive at your definition.  Highly specified health data and social determinants at the census tract level can be difficult come by, but the layers produced in Health Demographic Analysis help to begin telling the story of where potential at-risk neighborhoods are located.  For example, our obesity Health Demographic Analysis combined the percent of the population aged 17 and younger, the percentage of high-school aged youth considered overweight, the percent of low income households, and areas determined to be in food deserts.  A layer such as this can help focus on areas where these indicators overlap and reveal potential at-risk populations.

Health Demographic Analysis

Health Demographic Analysis

Health Demographic Analysis is supported by hundreds of health indicators, social determinants of health, HRSA designations and facilities, and political boundaries within the Virginia Atlas of Community Health.  Access to this vast array of indicators allows you to overlay Health Demographic Analysis with these data sets to create an even more impactful map.  Again, in the obesity version, we laid over the Health Demographic Analysis layer with farmers markets, parks, and bike trails.  This allowed the map viewer to see whether these potential at risk populations have access to opportunities for exercise and healthy activities.

You can try our award winning tool by visiting the Virginia Atlas of Community Health.

GeoHealth Innovations and Community Health Solutions Announce the Release of the Virginia Atlas of Community Health


The Virginia Atlas of Community Health is the product of a collaborative effort between GeoHealth Innovations and Community Health Solutions with generous support from the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation.  The Atlas is an online resource for community health resources and a platform for creating and interacting with a vast array of community health indicators.


The Atlas pledges to help you go “From Insight to Action” with all of the tools and data provided.  Insight is gained through accessing over 200 community health indicators areas in the Data section including adult/youth health risk, maternal and infant health, mortality, and other social determinants of health.  In the Maps section, a set of ready to go maps allows you to quickly visualize and interact with key indicators or build a custom map from the full menu of profile categories and geographic levels.

Action is taken by exploring the Actions Guides and examining issues through different lenses in Perspectives.  The Action Guides help you get started in specific topic areas and learn best practices.  Here you can apply the maps and data in meaningful ways.  Perspectives show you community health issues from a variety perspectives and aid in engaging stakeholders.

Visit the Virginia Atlas of Community Health today and move FROM INSIGHT TO ACTION!

Geospatial analysis by GeoHealth Innovations focuses on food access and the environment

Analyzing Food Access.

Over the past two months, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has release two additional community health equity reports (CHERs) for Cook County, Illinois and Bernalillo County, New Mexico. These two reports included mapping and analysis performed by GeoHealth Innovations.

To examine access to healthy food in Cook County, GeoHealth Innovations analyzed the distribution of and access to chain supermarkets and large scale independent grocers. A methodology to measure food access was developed by GeoHealth Innovations with support from VCU’s Center on Society and Health and members of the Cook County Place Matters community team. The measure was based on the inverse distance from each population weighted centroid to all categorical food vendors within the study area. An ordinary least squares regression was then used to account for influence of population density on food access. The resulting residual values were the food access index.

Using the LISA (local indicator of spatial autocorrelation) analysis tool from Arizona State University’s GeoDa software package, the association between educational attainment and food access was examined. The LISA value measured the clustering of pairs of similar attribute values. In this case, a higher LISA values reflected pairs of the lowest educational attainment and lowest food access values. A dot density overlay of racial and ethnic distribution was added to the map. Several patterns emerged and are highlighted in the Cook County report.

In Bernalillo County, thematic mapping by GeoHealth Innovations helped to bring a 22-year difference in life expectancy in census tracts across the county to light. Other thematic maps of Bernalillo County included percentage of low-birth weight infants and density of environmental hazards. The density of environmental hazards was derived from point-level data provided to GeoHealth Innovations by the Bernalillo County Place Matter team. Several types of environmental hazards were aggregated by census tract and the density of hazards per square mile was calculated.

For more information or to view the reports, visit the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies or GeoHealth Innovations.

GeoHealth Innovations’ maps and analysis help to highlight health disparities


In the first half of 2012, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released Community Health Equity Reports (CHER) for two of their PLACE MATTERS communities – San Joaquin Valley, California and New Orleans, Louisiana. Both reports include geospatial analysis and thematic mapping performed by GeoHealth Innovations.

The GeoHealth Innovations team used advanced geospatial analytic techniques – such as raster interpolation, ordinary least squares regression (OLS), geographically weighted regression (GWR), and spatial autocorrelation – in the study of eight cities and regions across the United States.

Specifically, these techniques were applied in the San Joaquin Valley, California to investigate the association between poverty and premature mortality. Overall, GeoHealth Innovations was successful in supporting the Joint Center in the development of a CHER for each PLACE MATTERS community.


For more information or to view the reports, visit the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies or GeoHealth Innovations.

GeoHealth Innovations Presents the Progress of the Virginia Rural Health Data Portal at ESRI Health

GeoHealth Innovations delivered a presentation titled “The Virginia Rural Health Data Portal: Phase II” at the ESRI Health Conference in Washington, DC. ESRI Health is the largest meeting of GIS health application users in the world. The data portal presentation was conducted in cooperation with the Virginia Rural Health Resource Center, and demonstrated geospatial and statistical enhancements completed during early 2011. The data portal is the most comprehensive online source for health and social determinant data in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Copies of the presentation are available in the white paper section of our website, at